I didn’t think anything when I saw a post over at FanGraphs yesterday advertising an internship opportunity with the Houston Astros. The job is an IT thing, developing database software and all kinds of stuff I don’t know anything about. It’s unpaid.
But when you get into the comments, there are a lot of people going off on the Astros over this, arguing that an unpaid internship for such a highly-skilled position that will produce a valuable, tangible product for them is unethical at best, and possibly illegal. One commenter links to this article as a point of reference.
I know nothing about the laws in this area so I refer you to the commenters there and appeal to the expertise of others in the interests of assessing this. I will say, however, that it’s long been the case that baseball teams have paid little if anything for top-shelf office talent, using the sexiness of a baseball team on one’s resume as a lure. And the fact is, they can get away with it because there are thousands who would love the chance to work in baseball, even for peanuts or, in this case, less than peanuts.
Illegal? I dunno. Simply wrong? Possibly. But I bet they have no trouble finding someone willing to take the job for nothing, because that’s how it has always gone in front offices.
(hat tip to Alex for the heads up)
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.